Fort Lovrijenac, often called Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar, is located next to Pile Brsalj built on a rock wall 37 meters above the azure blue Adriatic. Legend has it that the fort was built by local residents in a mere three months back in the 11th Century after hearing that the Venetians were planning to build their own fort at this same spot,. Lovrijenac is built in a perfect triangle conforming to the massive rock formation on which it sits overlooking Pile Bay. It was severely damaged during the 1667 earthquake but repaired quickly. The fortress was defended by ten large cannons, the largest nicknamed Guster (lizard). During Napoleon’s time the massive 3,000 kilo bronze cannon was somehow sent over the edge of the wall only to be lost in the sea below. There have been many attempts in recent years to locate the cannon, however the depths of the Adriatic have thwarted any effort and Guster remains buried at sea.
Access to Fort Lovrijenac by a set of 175 stone steps, steeply climbing the hill from the Pile Bay area. The fortress has been the site of some wonderful activities in recent times.
A segment of The Amazing Race was in Dubrovnik back in July 2007. Very special permission from our local government had to be obtained to install a zip line going from Fort Lovrijenac to the sea. The zip line was removed immediately after filming of course. The following year the winner’s mother contacted me and requested we walk in her son and his partner’s footsteps as they raced through Dubrovnik. That was such a delight!
A couple of years later in July 2009 the makers of Red Bull held a cliff diving contest that attracted talented young (and handsome) men from all over the world. A special diving board was constructed 27 meters above the Adriatic from the rocky ledge on which the fort stands. Although I knew that the location was selected to avoid the many rock formations in Pile Bay, I held my breath until each diver surfaced. In my opinion they were all winners.
There can nothing more romantic than having a wedding ceremony and reception inside the fortress walls under the radiant stars on a moonlit night. Since the inner walls contain no facilities with the exception of an elegant wooden carved bar, all the tables, chairs and food must be carried up the 175 steps. Strong young men haul every needed item up to the fort and convert the three bare levels into a romantic and elegant venue, transforming a blank canvas into Renoir. Imagine having cocktails on the second tier watching the golden sunset slowly glide into the Adriatic Sea. After dinner, drinking champagne while enjoying the moon as it gives the azure sea an iridescent glow on a glorious balmy evening. For this dramatic setting to be your dream wedding, be prepared, as the rental fee for the fort is not for the faint hearted.
Fort Lovrijenac is one of the most dignified beautiful stages for performances of some of the world’s best plays. Now in its 62nd year, the Dubrovnik Summer Festival opens on 10 July and runs until 25 August. Shakespeare’s Hamlet produced back in 1988 with impressive performances by Dame Judith Dench and Daniel Day Lewis is still talked about to this day.
The Fortress continues to provide the city of Dubrovnik continued inspiration, not only with its current usages and military past but all who visit can read and ponder. Above the entrance door there is an inscription “Non Bene Pro Toto Libertas Venditur Auro” – “Freedom is not to be sold for all the treasures in the world.”